I am not sure even how I met all of the people who I met at Kalani, but what's important is that I met them. Without these connections and their friendships, I would not have managed living in community with the joy and laughter that I experienced.
(I have changed some of the names, not sure of people's response to being a part of a blog.)
At work, in housekeeping, I met Liz, much younger than I, who had an openness and sense of humor that I loved. She approached me with an unexpected greeting, with such a way of connecting, that made it easy to become friends with her. She had a dry sense of humor, one that I resonated with. While others didn't get her jokes, I was right there, laughing and responding in the same dry manner. We often laughed our way through cleaning the rooms, which made the mindless work so much fun. Liz also had a similar work ethic as I did; yet we were both learning that there was no need to overwork as we did in our careers. Liz was responsible for bringing Bob Marley to the housekeeping area where we sang and danced to his music as we folded the towels and sheets.
I met Riana, Liz's partner spontaneously one day on the lanai. Riana, too, was loving, kind and just fun to be around. She worked in the kitchen and when we got the same days off we traveled to town (Hilo), on the van runs that Kalani offered for those of us who didn't have a car. This was our time to reconnect with society - with stores and such, that weren't offered in the remote area of Kalani. And, we splurged and rented a car to get to the other side of the island, Kailua-Kona, in order to be near the white sandy beaches. We had a great time sharing our own personal journeys and how we were going to get to the next stages...how we wanted to grow.
|Hapuna Beach, Kona side of the Big Island|
Jan, who I also met in housekeeping, had a like-minded spiritual focus that I was looking for. We were of different ages, and in different places in life, but we connected. We both liked the early morning shift. We walked the grounds, cleaning as a form of meditation, respecting each other's need for peace in the early mornings. We found a rhythm that matched our internal one.
Randy was my neighbor, a loving soul, who was more than generous and always attempted to come to any situation with compassion and empathy. He was an experienced nomadic traveler. His travels often brought him to areas where there was a need for assistance (volunteers). If I am remembering correctly, he most recently had come from Thailand after helping out with the tsunami that had occurred several months back. He was an inspiration and my desire to travel and volunteer started to germinate when I heard his adventures. His life seemed so exciting, even though I am sure that there were trials and tribulations along the way. Randy had the courage that I wished that I possessed, to live life to it's fullest. I was making progress though...with these beginnings of traveling here to the Big Island of Hawai'i having 'outside of the box' experiences.
I think I met Mary, who arrived much later than all of us, while hanging out in A-frame land. Although she lived just outside the ghetto, around the corner, she had rats. Interestingly enough, the ghetto didn't have the rats. How ironic. Mary, was another loving soul who was a comfort. She was easy to confide in, and I appreciated her, her gifts and her free spirit. I was able to share some private thoughts and experiences that I hadn't shared with anyone that I could remember. There was an ease that came while we were in each other's company that I don't often feel with many.
I felt loved and accepted by all of these women, and by Randy, and, hopefully I returned this same feeling to them.
And, even though these are the people whom I became the closest to, there was a feeling of community and connection with so many others. We had running jokes. We laughed at our mistakes. We danced together. We swam, at the pool and at the black sands beach. We watched the full moon rise over the water at the Point. We ate together, with respect to those whose rhythm of the day meant eating separately on the Lanai. We had a dream group, exploring the realms of the dream world together. We were sharing all aspects of life together. And, we felt a trust with each other after such a short period of time.
|Kehena, a black sands beach near Kalani|
|The Point, across from Kalani|
|Ecstatic dance, Blue Room at Kalani|
Now, don't get me wrong, there was lots of dysfunctional stuff happening - judgments, criticisms, complaining, etc. And, often it was a surprise to me when it happened, thinking that I was at a spiritual retreat place where people would rise above all of that, including myself. I was often reminded of our humanness and that we are all at different stages of our processes. I often fell into the same mode of complaining that I had when I worked as a teacher. This was something that I wanted to let go of, knowing that it was creating what I didn't want in my life with such focus on the negative.
Yet, despite the dysfunction, when you live in community like this you get closer to people in a shorter amount of time and develop friendships on a different level than in the traditional paradigm. I was able to let down my guard and be who I was even if it meant I had a different opinion. I walked away from disagreements and the dysfunction with ease and integrity, knowing it would be smoothed over because basically it had to, we all lived together. There is a gift that comes with living in community, and, my friendships and memories are indicative of that gift.